A test pressing is the first opportunity to hear your digitally recorded project in an analog format. It is essentially a rough draft of your record. Test presses are a safety net to ensure that there's been no human error during the mastering stage (i.e. lacquer or DMM cutting stage). A test pressing is not an exact replica of your final records. Sonically, your test pressings and final records should sound relatively the same, however due to the nature of creating test pressings you may notice certain audio characteristics which don't carry over to the production run. Test pressings are made in small quantities, so they may be susceptible to noise because the press may not reach its 100% optimum temperature. This can lead to more surface noise as well as clicks and pops. As long as they don't occur in the same spot on all of your records, clicks and pops should not be a concern. If a large pop is detected in the same spot across all your test press copied, please notify your customer service representative and provide the exact location (Side, track and time code) so that we can inspect the metal parts for any anomalies.
When reviewing Test Pressings, it is always important to cover the basics and ensure that all the tracks are in the correct order and that the tracks are on the correct side. Make sure the correct audio was submitted for your project. If specific etchings were requested, check to make sure they are accurate on the test press copies. If your record has any special requests, like a locked groove, now is the time to check that they function in the way they were intended.
It's important that you listen to a single copy in its entirety and then cross-reference any issues across all the other copies. This will allow you to determine whether an issue is present on all copies or localized to one test pressing. If the issue appears on just one test pressing then you can be confident that it won't recur during the entire production run. If an anomoly occurs in the same place across all the test presses, then notify your customer service representative.
NOTE: All vinyl records contain surface noise (crackles, pops and ticks), it's one of the quirks that come along with the format. However, if you feel that you're hearing something out of the ordinary (for example loud pops, excessive static, or a skip) and it occurs in the same place on multiple copies then notify your customer service representative and our quality control team will do their very best to investigate the issue.
It's normal to notice some reduction in sound quality as the turntable tonearm moves towards the center of the record, especially on sides that are 20 minutes and longer. This may be caused by a phenomena called inner groove distortion, which is when the audio wavelengths become gradually shorter and more compressed as the diameter of the vinyl playback area decreases. Alternatively, the cutting engineer may have had to contain some high and low frequencies in the final tracks, to ensure longer audio fits safely on a side. However, if you're hearing distortion in other areas of the record then first check the same copy on a different turntable (if possible) and if the issue persists, notify your customer service representative.
If you have completed all of these steps and thorough checks and still think there's an issue that needs further attention… please confirm if your turntable might be causing the issue. Always review the issue on another turntable. If you only have one turntable, either visit a record store, or a friend for a second reference. Play the same passage for confirmation. If all copies experience the issue in the exact same place then notify your customer service representative. If not, it is most likely an issue with your turntable or listening set-up.
If the issue is skipping-related, look up the recommended tracking force settings for your tonearm. Adjust the weight and balance of the tonearm appropriately and try again. If the issue appears in an identical place across all copies, and persists after following the aforementioned steps, please let your customer service representative know. Images and videos of the issue are always useful for us to determine what might be causing the issue.